Ridge walk to happiness. Stéphane Aymon’s trail running paradise.
Hiking is too slow for him. That’s how Stéphane Aymon discovered trail running. On the ridge trail around Nendaz and Veysonnaz, he trains for the 70-kilometre-long Grand Parcours des Nendaz Trail – happily pushing his body to its limits.
It is 6:30 a.m. Finally, the sun dances across the mountain peaks on the horizon. The warm light from the sun’s first rays conjures up fantastic shadows across the bushy ridge. The narrow path snakes its way up and down along the ridge. Pure charm. The only person already out and about on Mont Rouge (2,490 metres above sea level) overlooking Veysonnaz is Stéphane Aymon, who is tackling the route at a swift pace. He breathes in the cold early morning air and feels energy flow through his body. For such powerful moments, the keen trail runner from Nendaz is happy enough to forgo a lie-in.
From ski tours to trail running.
Stéphane is passionate about ski mountaineering in the winter. He has also been taking part in ski mountaineering races for quite some years now. There’s little he like more than challenging his body and feeling at one with nature. While on the hunt for a sporting challenge in the summer, he discovered trail running.
The trail paradise right on his doorstep.
A native of Valais, Stéphane spends as much of his free time as possible in natural surroundings. Stéphane has such an appreciation for nature and the mountains that he moved to Nendaz from the Rhône Valley six years ago. Since then, the trails have been right on his doorstep. There’s no better way for the sporty nature lover to switch off and recharge his batteries than on an intense after-work run on “his” home trails.
“Hiking is too boring for me.”
Stéphane’s favourite thing is to discover the Valais mountain world at a run. “Hiking is too boring for me,” he explains, “I can never get enough of these unbelievably diverse landscapes.” The Nendaz and Veysonnaz hiking trail network covers almost 250 kilometres and can be easily reached from both resorts by mountain cableway. The region is known in particular for its “bisse” trails: hiking trails that follow historical irrigation channels at a slight incline. But the ridge trails are Stéphane’s favourite. “There are very few places where you can run over such spectacular ridges,” he says, his eyes shining brightly.
Challenging his body.
Stéphane never particularly enjoyed jogging. Trail running was another story entirely, however! The more he goes out with his running shoes on, the further and higher he finds himself wanting to run, and over even more ridges and peaks. To really test his limits, he takes part in a trail running event three or four times each summer. His favourite event takes place right on his doorstep: the Nendaz Trail. In this event, he’s finished among the top runners and been on the podium several times already. “The experience and the personal challenge mean more to me than winning,” he explains modestly, however.
The Nendaz Trail. A run with charm.
An insider’s tip among runners.
The Nendaz Trail is one of Switzerland’s lesser known trail running races. But it is becoming increasingly popular: since it was first held in 2014, the number of people taking part has risen from 250 to 785 in 2019. With a difference in altitude of 3,590 metres, a distance of 70 kilometres and its highest point at almost 3,000 metres above sea level, the Grand Parcours is a technically demanding route. It takes runners through light-filled pine forests, over lush green pastures, past intensively coloured reservoirs and mountain lakes and into the high Alpine terrain at the foot of the glaciers. “A wild, magical landscape – and on wide, open routes you end up running entirely on your own,” enthuses Stéphane Aymon. Around 80 athletes from 11 nations took part in the Grand Parcours in 2019.
Three routes for every level.
The 30-kilometre-long Petit Parcours offers the ultimate trail running experience. For those who want to take part but on a less challenging route, the 16-kilometre-long Parcours Dévouverte is the ideal choice.
- Grand Parcours Distance: 70km Altitude difference: 3,590m
- Petit Parcours Distance: 30km Altitude difference: 1,890m
- Explorer trail Distance: 16km Altitude difference: 840m
14 trail running routes to suit all tastes.
Stéphane is one of the most active trail runners in the region. Together with two other local runners, he drew up the 14 most beautiful trail running routes. Each route is a round trip and takes you through a different area. “We have put together diverse and attractive routes – there’s plenty on offer both for ambitious runners and for those new to trail running,” Stéphane enthuses.
The routes can be downloaded as gpx tracks, while the Grand Parcours and Petit Parcours routes are permanently signposted.